The traditional claim that Mary remained a virgin during the very act of giving birth to Jesus is one of the least known and least understood aspects of Marian doctrine today. Has the contemporary Church retreated from this claim?
In Vessel of Honor, Fr. Brian Graebe provides a solid introduction to the historical development of the doctrine and its reception in modern Catholic theology. He shows that, far from being responsible for its contemporary occlusion, the Second Vatican Council did much to reaffirm the traditional understanding of Mary’s perpetual virginity against its radical reinterpretation in the mid-twentieth century. Fr. Graebe demonstrates that the Council’s underappreciated work on Mary’s perpetual virginity must be seen as part of the legacy of Vatican II.
Perhaps the most significant and timely contribution of this book is its illumination of the Council’s revival of the patristic association of Mary with the Church. At a time when many claim Vatican II weakened the Church’s commitment to Sacred Tradition, Vessel of Honor amplifies the Council’s clarion call to the Church to receive and preserve God’s revelation with virginal fidelity. Mary’s physical intactness is an icon of the deposit of faith. Vessel of Honor is an important book both for modern Mariology and for the proper reception of the Second Vatican Council.
Fr. Brian A. Graebe is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. He obtained his undergraduate degree from New York University (Philosophy) and studied for the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie. After serving in two parishes of the archdiocese, Fr. Graebe studied dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and earned the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.). He currently serves as pastor of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan.